Joyce A. Post
In October 1951 the Burroughs Adding Machine Company of Detroit,
Michigan, founded in 1886, announced a plan to build a $2 million
electronic research laboratory in Paoli on a 12 acre plot bordered by old
Route 202 (now Route 252) on the east, Central Avenue on the north, a
Devereux Foundation property on the west, and the Pennsylvania Railroad
tracks on the south. They first presented their plan at the October 1
evening meeting of the Paoli Business Men.1
The plan was for an L-shaped modern building of the architectural style
then being used in new construction for colleges and universities. The site
was to be a permanent home for the company's long-range research and
development activities in high-speed business systems and equipment.
Burroughs' work in this technology had begun at the University of Michigan
and continued at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the
University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Irven Travis, Supervisor of Research at the
Moore School from 1946 to 1948, and Director of Research at Burroughs
from 1949 to 1952, would eventually be the Vice-President for Research at
Burroughs in 1952 and then head of the new Paoli facility.
Copyright 2002 by Joyce A. Post
Locally, the Burroughs Research Laboratory was then at 511 North Broad
Street in Philadelphia and had a professional research staff of about 150.
The company now desired a university campus setting, rather than their
present location in an industrial area, for their ongoing development of
business accounting systems and experimental work in electromechanics.
Burroughs had been looking for a site for two years, it had to have a
campus-like atmosphere and be close to transportation and to the Moore
School. In those days before widespread air travel, the Paoli stop of the
Pennsylvania Railroad was seen as convenient for travel to Burroughs'
home office in Detroit.
The John H. Dingee Estate owned the property at the time and it was zoned
R-3 residential. Burroughs planned to file a petition before the Tredyffrin
Township Board of Supervisors to rezone the plot to commercial. A one
story 20 foot high building was to be 85,000 square feet and have two
wings covering 20 per cent of the plot. The main wing, set 150 feet back
from the street, was to extend 500 feet along Central Avenue. The main
entrance to the building was to be in this wing on the inside of the L shape
with Central Avenue to its back. The other wing, set 100 feet back, was to
extend 300 feet along the Devereux Foundation side of the property. The
wings were to be built into the natural slopes of the site with the deeper
area near where the wings met allowing for a ground floor in the main wing
out toward Route 202. There were to be no external structures such as
power plants, antennas, etc. The part of the property near the railroad
tracks was to be a 200 car parking lot with an entrance to it from Route
202 just to the north and west of the railroad underpass. The plans
showed a long curving walk inside the L from the parking lot to the
entrance. The entire area was to be screened from view with landscaping.
There was to be one eight hour shift five days a week. Half of the 250-300
employees would be mathematicians, physicists, and electrical and
mechanical engineers and the other half would be support staff.
Burroughs' decision to proceed would depend on the attitude of the local
residents. They wanted their new facility to add to the growth and dignity
of the neighborhood and expected that many of the employees would move
into the surrounding communities. The proposed plan prompted
discussion in the community about whether Paoli was going to develop as a
residential community or whether its future was more as a commercial or
industrial area. Homeowners on the north side of Central Avenue and
others concerned about the rezoning formed the Valley Hills Civic
Association to oppose industrialization of the area. On November 13, 1951
a public hearing on the proposal took place in the auditorium of the
Tredyffrin-Easttown High School in Berwyn with 300 local residents in
attendence.2 On December 17 the three Tredyffrin Township supervisors,
William T. Comer, a Paoli merchant, C. W. Leighton, a Berwyn plumbing
contractor, and Joseph C. Hoffner, a Strafford hosiery manufacturer,
unanimously approved the petition.
Early in April 1952 Burroughs purchased the plot from Alexander L. H.
Dingee and his wife, Eleanor Wedge Dingee of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It had originally belonged to John Henry Dingee, who, in the late 1800s,
purchased about 100 acres here along the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was
described as a handsome country place where his magnificent mansion,
Fennerton, stood among lawns and shade trees. John Dingee died in 1913
and had been very active in the Paoli Town Association, the Tredyffrin
School Board, the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, and the Paoli
Presbyterian Church.3 Further information is needed about this Dingee
family and property between 1913 and 1952.
On April 10 the contract for the construction of the research laboratory was
awarded to the Baton Construction Company of Philadelphia. Baton had
built several other research laboratories, including ones for the Armstrong
Cork Company in Lancaster, Sharp and Dohme at West Point, Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State College (now University). Walker-Yoemans
Associates, also of Philadelphia, were the engineers, and Aaron Colish and
Frank E. Hahn of Philadelphia were the associate architects. Construction
began in July and was expected to be completed early in 1954.
A newspaper article dated Aprii 17, 1953 states that the facility now costs
$3 million and is to be air-conditioned, and that the name of the company
is now the Burroughs Corporation. The cornerstone was laid on October
27, 1953. By this time the square footage of the facility had increased to
105,000 feet. Future staff was now estimated at close to 400.
Moving in started on February 27, 1954. To minimize work disruptions,
the move would be only on weekends over an eight to ten week period. The
mover was Ryan & Christie of Bryn Mawr and it was estimated that it would
take about 80 vanloads to move the computing, laboratory, and office
equipment from the old laboratory at 511 North Broad Street in
Philadelphia to Paoli. By the time the move began more than 75 families
had relocated to Paoli and the nearby suburbs of Malvern, Berwyn,
Strafford, and Wayne. Dr. Travis moved into his new Paoli office on April 5,
1954. The cafeteria, located in the central part of the building along with
the administrative offices to the west, opened on June 8. The facility also
had a scientific library and a 200 seat auditorium.
Long Range View Of New Burroughs Corp. Plant At Paoli
LONG RANGE view of Burroughs Corp. electronics research and development building at Route 202 and Central avc, just east of
Paoli. View is north from Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line tracks. Administrative offices and cafeteria are at left of "B" and
laboratory wing is at right. Parking lot in center foreground has room for 250 cars.
The April 17, 1954 photograph above shows several changes from the
original design. There are now two long parallel two-story laboratory wings
along Central Avenue, a higher central section with a big "B," the
Burroughs' logo at the time, up on the side of the building and visible from
Route 202, and a square of other offices, later called the administrative
quadrangle, to the west. The main entrance was now on Central Avenue
where there was a large lobby. The final cost was close to $5 million. The
brick wall in the lower left corner of the above photograph is still standing.
Burroughs still maintained four offices in Philadelphia: the Philadelphia
District Sales office at 250 North Broad Street, a new Electronic Instruments Division at 1209 Vine Street, and both the Regional Accounting and
Mid-Atlantic Sales Offices at 401 North Broad Street. The Paoli facility was
called the Burroughs Research Center and had three main units: the Basic
Research Division, the Development Division, and the Special Products
In September 1954 Burroughs had many open houses for engineering
professionals and societies, corporate staff, and families of the employees.
They reached out to the local community too. On September 21 they had a
"Community Open House" that was attended by over 1,000 Paoii area
residents. On December 14, forty-two seniors from Tredyffrin-Easttown
High School in Berwyn visited to learn about Burroughs' long-range
research programs in electromechanics and magnetics. On March 18,
1955, a Burroughs Research Center Fashion Show and Card Party to benefit
Boy Scout troops in Paoli and Devon was supported by several local
merchants: the Paoli Sport Shop, the Kae Mae Shop, and the shop of Miss
Eleanor Callahan.
In August 1958 William Hall, who had been a community relations
representative for Burroughs, and the editor of its internal house organ
which had recently been discontinued, left to become general manager and
editor of the Upper Main Line News. After three years at this paper, Hall left
in March 1961 to join the staff of the Wilmington News Journal.4
The first machine in Burroughs' new electronic line, the E101 Electronic
Computer, was developed by the Paoli group and was announced in 1954.
Marketing material for it bragged that it was "no larger" than the average
office desk, was designed for mass production, and could be operated
without special training. This computer was not a success, it wasn't very
versatile and was never strongly promoted or developed by the company.
After this Burroughs shifted most of its work to defense contracts, which it
had been doing to some extent since World War II, and which were less
risky and more cost effective to bring to the market.5 In doing this there
was less basic research and more development work since the typical way
to do business with the government was to propose and develop a company
product in response to something the government said it needed.
The Paoli facility, and later the other Burroughs facilities in this area,
converted almost immediately to defense and other government work. By
November 1955 it had hired a retired Rear Admiral of the U. S. Navy to be
its Associate Director responsible for the Defense Administration work.
During the 1950s and into the 1960s many eminent scientists and
engineers left their current positions at universities, with the military, and
related industries, to come to the Paoli campus, where they could work in
an atmosphere conducive to their research and development goals. Many
of them ended up obtaining patents, publishing papers, and winning
prestigious professional awards.
On May 11, 1956 Burroughs announced it had a contract with the U. S. Air
Force to develop the computer that would be the "brains" in the ground
guidance systems for missiles and that most of the work would be done at
Paoli. Early in 1957 a research scientist at Paoii developed BEPOC,
Burroughs Electrographic Printer-Plotter for Ordnance Computing, under a
contract with Army Ordnance that exceeded requirements at the Aberdeen
Proving Grounds in Maryland. Although primarily designed to process data
from ballistic missiles and rockets, it was hoped BEPOC could also be used
to process data from the first earth satellite to be launched during U. S.
participation in the International Geophysical Year experiments.
Contracts with the various branches of the armed forces continued and
resulted in the following work at Paoli:
• June 1957. U. S. Army. "Matabe," Multi-Weapon Automatic Target
and Battery Evaluation, that calculated, among other things, how
long it would take a missile to fire on an attacking airplane and the
percentage of total bomb damage that would result.
• July 1957. U. S. Army. Cordat II (Coordinate Data Set). Computer
systems for receiving and transmitting communications between
radar listening stations and control centers responsible for
directing anti-aircraft fire on attacking airplanes.
• January 1958. U. S. Air Force. Research and development of the
electronic ground guidance system for the Atlas intercontinental
ballistic missile (ICBM) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. This system
was manufactured at Burroughs' Detroit plant. A scale model of
this guidance system was on display at the Easttown Township
Library on March 15, 1958, the date that library building on Midland Avenue in Berwyn was dedicated. One of the earliest successful launches of the Atlas was in December 1958 when it broadcast
a recorded Christmas message from U. S. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower. This was America's first response to Russia's Sputnik,
which had been launched on October 4, 1957. In 1965 the original
Burroughs computer that guided the Atlas missile first tested in
1955 was presented to the Smithsonian Institution by the U. S. Air
• November 1958. U. S. Army Signal Research Development
Laboratory. A 3,000-word-a-minute teletype machine that used a
new printing technique called electrostatic recording. This
technique is still used by most current photocopying machines.
• November 1959. U. S. Air Force. Airborne Long Range input
(ALRI) to place computer-based radar stations in RC-121
Constellation reconnaissance aircraft as part of an early warning air
defense system. With this project Burroughs acted as the overall
project manager, integrating the work of several other multi-million
dollar contracts the government had awarded to Electronic
Communications, Inc. and Lockheed Aircraft Service.
• July 1961. U. S. Air Force. System hardware contractor for the
NORAD (North America Air Defense) combat operation center In
Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado for a highspeed automated system to evaluate large amounts of simultaneous warning, surveillance, and weapons data. Burroughs created
a new division "to be housed in the Burroughs Laboratories, Paoli"
to manage the development of this system.
Business systems and non-military projects were also developed and
announced at Paoli:
© April 1957. DATATRON, a computer that played blackjack.
» September 9, 1959. The Visible Record Computer (VRC) developed
for the banking industry that first used Magnetic Ink Character
Recognition, first known as MICR and now evoived into OCR, or
Optical Character Recognition. This Burroughs system consisted of
the characters now found at the bottom of checks and later on
other documents that could be read both by computer and the
human eye. It was under development for 5 years and first put into
operation at the First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company in
Philadelphia in mid-September 1960.
• February 20, 1962. John H. Glenn, Jr., aboard a Mercury
spacecraft powered by an Atlas rocket, was the first American to
orbit the earth. Burroughs ground guidance systems were
responsible for approximately the first five minutes of the launch,
from guiding the Atlas to the precise point in space where it would
reach a successful orbit, to jettisoning the booster rockets, and
finally to where the capsule separated and was on its way into
space. Burroughs had been preparing for this moment by
successfully guiding, without failure, over 100 space probes, orbital
missions and ICBM shots from Cape Canaveral since 1955. As
astounding as this achievement was, it is interesting to note that
punched paper tape was the most advanced medium at this time
for recording the data generated by this event.
October 1962. To demonstrate the Telstar communications
satellite built by American Telephone and Telegraph Company
(AT&T), a Burroughs Laboratories D825 modular data processing
system developed in Paoli successfully sent computer messages
from Paoli to Detroit by way of the AT&T Long Lines Department in
New York City and the Telstar antenna in Andover, Maine. Modular
design was a new concept in computer design where separate
subsystems controlled different parts of an integrated system. This
meant that an entire new computer did not have to be built for
each new application and that the Burroughs D825 could be used
in many of their systems developed at this time.
• August 1963. U. S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). To develop
new electronic equipment to give air traffic controllers greater
command over their information. In 18 millionths of a second the
new system would take data from radar and beacon equipment,
send it over ordinary land telephone lines, and display it on the
scopes used by the air traffic controllers. A major component was
to automatically filter out irrelevant information. This is another
use of the D825 modular system. Twenty-two years later, in July
1985, System Development Corporation, a Burroughs subsidiary in
Paoli was awarded a $37.5 million FAA contract to upgrade
computerized radar equipment used by air traffic controllers at
120 small and medium-sized airports. The equipment was to be
delivered between September 1986 and November 1987.
• September 1964. U. S. Post Office Department. High-speed letter
sorting machines. Over the next six years Burroughs had eight
contracts worth over $40 million to develop and manufacture this
equipment and by July 1970 there were over 300 of these sorters
in 144 U. S. cities.
• March 1971. General Services Administration for the U. S. Navy.
$30.6 million contract for computer systems. This is one of the
many contracts Burroughs had with various government agencies
to manage their data processing activities.
• March 1971. Delta, TWA, and Pan Am Airlines. Installation of onground runway taxiing and docking light systems at airport
terminals in New York, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami, Dallas,
Chicago, and Boston.
As early as May 1955, only one year after moving to the Paoli location. Dr.
Travis announced that Burroughs had purchased a 104 acre tract in the
Great Valley on the south side of Swedesford Road near Cedar Hollow Road
and the boundary between Tredyffrin and East Whiteland Townships where
a 28,500 square foot building was to be erected. It was to be designed by
Walker-Yeomans Associates and construction would begin around June 15.
It was to be occupied by mid-September 1955 and was to house a
Production section. It. was about three miles north of the Paoli location.
Staff at the Paoli facility had grown to more than 600. The Paoli facility
had been designed to be flexible and expandable, but the option of a new
facility was chosen instead. Burroughs also leased 10,000 square feet in
the one-story Modern Dunnage Manufacturing Company building northeast
of the intersection of old Route 202 and Howellville Road and about one
mile north of the Paoli location. This was expected to be occupied almost
immediately in May 1955.
By April 1956 there were 1,400 employees. Parking had become a
problem and spaces for cars at the Paoli facility were expanded to 720.
The main lot by the railroad tracks was expanded to 375 spaces, 75 were
added in an area of new construction near the cafeteria, and 270 spaces
were added in a new addition near the administrative quadrangle. Part of
this new area was reserved for visitor parking and had access from Central
Avenue. Employees had to continue to use the entrance on Route 202.
There were spaces for 200 cars at the Great Valley location. At the Modern
Dunnage Manufacturing Company building the parking lot was expanded to
accommodate 70 cars.
In April 1957 the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors announced that sidewalks
would be installed on the Burroughs property fronting on Central Avenue.
in November 1957 the building on Howellville Road, that had been called
Building A, was purchased and was now called the Howellville Laboratory.
Three buildings at the Swedesford Road location were now completed and
were called the Great Valley Laboratories.
In December 1957 Burroughs announced it would be leasing a building in
Radnor on Radnor-Chester Road to be its headquarters and training center
for the Military Field Services Division of Burroughs' Defense Contracts
Organization, it was to have approximately 850 employees, and parking
spaces for 350 cars. Military personnel and civilians were to be trained
here to operate and maintain the defense systems Burroughs was
In January 1958 two 65-foot radar towers were erected at the Great Valley
Laboratories location. Their purpose was to test the efficiency of systems
for detecting enemy aircraft at long range that the Paoli Laboratories were
developing for the U. S. Air Force. One tower, the "Temperate Tower," had
an open steel framework and an up and down scanning motion that housed
a height-finder radar. The other tower, the "Arctic Tower," had a closed
style suitable for subzero temperatures and a circular scanning motion for
sweeping an area to search for approaching aircraft. They were for
simulation and testing only and not for actual defense. Nonetheless, local
residents must have been alarmed. They may have known, or not known,
that at the same time there was an active Nike missile launch site only
about one and a half miles away on Diamond Rock Hill near Swedesford
and LeBoutillier Roads.6 There was no connection between the two.
Although it is not documented anywhere, the reader of the many local
newspaper articles from this period begins to suspect that the phrase
"Paoli Research Center" is, by the late 1950s, being used collectively to
refer to all the local locations where research and development and
production was going on. Also, the impression grows that the Paoli facility
was increasingly devoted to management, administrative, and support
activities, that research and development were conducted at both the Paoli
and Great Valley locations, and that production and manufacturing were at
both the Great Valley and Howellville facilities. By January 1958, the total
number of employees at the "Research Center" was 1,800, compared with
383 in April 1954; an increase of 470% in three and a half years. By 1960
the collective name of Burroughs Research Center was also used.
The original division was called the "Research Center" and was established
in 1954. Eighteen months after the Research Center opened in April 1954,
a Deputy Director was hired. A second division, called "Military Systems,"
was established in 1956. Both divisions were located in the Paoli facility.
In August 1956 Dr. Travis' title was expanded to Vice-President of Research
and Engineering. During the first three years, most of the new staff was
scientists and technicians, but by early 1957 the number of non-scientific
support staff started to increase. The third division, "Great Valley
Laboratory," was established in 1958.
Management and administrative staff expanded. First to be hired was a
Director of Public Relations, in April 1958 a woman, Marilyn Joan
Kennelly, was named as the Supervisor of Methods Publications in the
Methods and Organization Planning Department. In April 1959 a new
Systems Engineering Department was created and a Security Manager was
hired. In February 1960 an Engineering Technical Editor came aboard. In
May a College Relations Administrator was appointed.
By November 1959 the Great Valley Laboratories had its own Program
Manager for the ALRI and other radar defense projects.
in August 1961 the Technical Manuals Department, started in 1955, was
recognized for producing 242 manuals totaling more than 35,000 pages.
On January 8, 1963 Burroughs integrated most of its local divisions into a
new "Defense and Space Group" headquartered at Paoli. Locally, it included the laboratories at Paoli and Great Valley, the Military Field Service
and Military Systems Divisions at Radnor, and the specialized electronic
and electromechanical development and production work at Howellville.
Detroit was also included in this group because its Military Computer
Division manufactured in quantity ail the systems developed here.7
By the end of 1963, a part of this new group, the Control Instrument
Division, was located at the Howellville facility. It had originally been the
Control Instrument Company and became a Burroughs subsidiary when it
was moved here from Brooklyn, N. Y. early in 1963. The U. S. Air Force
Logistics Command awarded Burroughs a contract for the lease of six
computer output microfilm units which were manufactured at the
Howellville production facility.
it is never really clear just where the organizational boundaries were
between the work done at Paoli or Great Valley. After the Great Valley
facility was built they both seem to be described together, and are called, at
various times, the Paoli Research Center, the Burroughs Research Center,
or the Great Valley Laboratories. They were always, however, consistently
said to be in Paoli, which may have been the mailing address since the
administrative offices seem always to have been at the Paoli facility. It is
probable that the Howellville facility was also part of this designation.
In April 1965 Dr. Irven Travis was promoted to Vice-President, Technological Development. He retired in 1969.
A February 9, 1969 article shows the letter sorting machinery Burroughs
produced for the U. S. Post Office Department at its Downingtown plant.
This consisted of two buildings on Boot Road just east of Route 322 about
13 miles west of Paoli. In 1980 it was still a major production facility for
Burroughs systems.
Burroughs Corporation Annual Reports occasionally featured "Tredyffrin"
operations but never specifically said whether an activity was at Paoli or
Great Valley, further confounding efforts to sort this out. The 1978 Report
(page 10) shows a photograph of a very large-scale system produced at
"Tredyffrin." The 1979 Report (page 19) shows a photograph of a technical
support operation where system specialists in "Tredyffrin" could directly
access the diagnostic unit of a Burroughs computer anywhere in the world
as long as there were connecting telephone lines. The 1984 Report (page
11) shows a photograph of a thermal video system developed at
"Tredyffrin" that gauged the heat output of mainframe computers to ensure
long term reliability. The 1985 Report (page 5) shows the five scientists at
"Tredyffrin" who developed a very powerful mainframe commercial
computer. Paoli is specifically mentioned in the 1981 Report (page 11),
but only to show a small photograph of a computer-aided-design system
used at this location.
As Burroughs grew and evolved, activities at Paoli and the other local
facilities seem to get swallowed up in the growth. In 1965 the former,
predominately local, "Defense and Space Group" became the "Defense,
Space, and Special Systems Group." In 1973 this group became the
"Federal and Special Systems Group" downplaying defense work and
stressing, instead, an increasing role in supplying the government with data
processing systems for many different types of operations.8 By 1984 this
group became the "Systems Development Corporation," a 6,000 employee
worldwide Burroughs subsidiary, that worked exclusively with government.
It supplied branches of armed services with non-defense minicomputers
(state-of-the-art at that time) to manage logistics and other operations in
the field and also had contracts with various state, local, and international
government units.9 By 1985 this subsidiary had government contracts
totaling $650 million.
In the mid-1980s, W. Michael Blumenthal, former Secretary of the Treasury
from 1977 to 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, and Chairman of the
Board at Burroughs' home office in Detroit since 1981, had acquisitions
fever. There were several reasons for this. The computer industry was in a
decline and transition period, IBM had grown very large, and there was
increasing competition from Japanese manufacturers. On May 8, 1986
Burroughs Corporation made a takeover bid for Sperry Corporation, located
in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.10 Sperry had focused on submarine navigation
systems and radar systems. Burroughs had focused on air defense and
tactical systems for the U. S. Army. And both companies were major
suppliers of information systems to the non-defense areas of the federal
government. It probably seemed like an obvious merger.
The merger would create the world's third largest computer company, with
combined annual revenues of $9.7 billion, just under second place DEC
(originally Digital Equipment Corporation) with annual revenues of $10.4
billion, but still only about one-fifth the size of IBM with annual revenues of
$50.5 billion. The U. S. Department of Justice ruled that the potential
acquisition raised no antitrust problems.11
On May 27, 1986 Sperry agreed to be acquired by Burroughs for $4.8
billion. The actual merger date was September 16, 1986. The new
company name, Unisys, was chosen from 31,000 entries submitted from
Burroughs employees.12 A sad, ironic note is that Dr. Irven Travis, the
prime mover behind the establishment and growth of the Research Center
in Paoli, died in Paoli Memorial Hospital on October 1, 1986, only two
weeks after the merger.13
One difficulty of the merger was that the two companies manufactured
mutually incompatible computer systems that would both now have to be
supported. In addition, both systems were quickly becoming outdated.
These were mainframe systems using proprietary in-house software at a
time when such systems were being supplanted by a new industry standard
of smaller networked computers using open systems that could interact
with systems on other computers.14
Other incompatibilities also become apparent. At the time of the merger
the total staff of the two companies was 122,000. Their workforces were
very different. Most of Burroughs' employees were research engineers and
manufacturing workers while most of Sperry's were administrators. In
1988 there were 3,300 Unisys employees working in Chester County. In
1991 over a dozen former Sperry administrators were found guilty in the Ill
Wind Pentagon case that had dragged on since 1988 of bribing Pentagon
officials to obtain military contracts.15
Unisys' fine of $190 million for their part in the Ill Wind case made already
existing financial worries at the time of the merger even greater. In
addition to the difficulties with their computers, these included an industrywide sluggish computer market, an overall economic downturn, a very high
company debt, and lagging company profits. By 1987 Unisys was
announcing plans for employee cuts and the sale of buildings. Nationally
over 10,000 employees were cut16 and the Burroughs headquarters
building in Detroit was sold to the Henry Ford Health System.17 In 1995
Unisys sold one of its most profitable businesses, the 17,000 employee
defense contracting division, for $862 million.18 The company announced it
now had four broad markets: financial, mostly banking, services, airline
reservations, telecommunications, and the public sector as the largest
computer supplier to the federal government.19
Locally, the Great Valley facility was sold first. At the time, it was described as a 76-acre complex that included a 288,000-square-foot factory,
office, and training space and dormitories for trainees. It was sold in the
middle of 1990 for $25 million. Unisys expected to lease the building back
after the sale. It would discontinue the manufacturing operations at this
location, which employed about 475 people, but the approximately 1,500
white collar employees, including a 500 person engineering unit, working
there would continue to do so in the lease-back arrangement. In 2002 this
building in Tredyffrin Township at 2476 Swedesford Road at the intersection with Cedar Hollow Road at the edge of the Great Valley Corporate
Center is called the Unisys East Coast Development Center.
Eighty additional positions in two other Chester County plants, presumably
Howellville and Downingtown, were also to be eliminated. The Southpoint
office park now stands where the Howellville facility used to be.
By February 1990 the Paoli facility was for sale and the 200-250 engineers
and white-collar workers still working there in defense industry contracts
were to be moved to the Great Valley location by March 31. 2 0 On
December 8, 1992 Unisys sold the property to South Mountain Forestry
Corporation of Bryn Mawr for $1.3 million. 21 In April 1994 the developer
planned to break ground for a six building, 141 condominium unit facility
for adults 55 and older that would open by October or November of that
year and would be called Paoli Pointe. An additional building with 100
units, now called Highgate at Paoli Pointe, an assisted living community,
was scheduled to be open by May 1995.22
As a prelude to America's corporate scandals of 2002, The Philadelphia
Inquirer published a scathing editorial on September 21, 1991 denouncing
Mr. Blumenthal as the "villain . . . who masterminded an unwise merger
and made a fortune in the process."23
Most of the information in the first four sections of this article comes from the
"Burroughs" folder in the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club archives located in the
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Educational Services Center in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
This folder contains copies of over 200 local newspaper articles largely from 1951 to
1961. Many of these articles have accompanying photographs; over 45 illustrate local
Burroughs facilities, equipment, and activities and over 35 more of them are formal
photographs of local Burroughs scientific and administrative personnel. Many of the
articles have valuable lengthy technical descriptions of some of the new systems
developed locally. The folder also has copies of several large recruiting display
advertisements for scientific personnel that appeared in Philadelphia and local
newspapers. Almost all of the articles from the early ten year period are from the Upper
Main Line News (UMLN). This newspaper, which began publication on March 27, 1947,
started having ownership and management difficulties around 1962 and ceased
publication on June 1, 1970. This, plus the fact that William Hall, former Burroughs
editor, was the editor of the UMLN from 1958-1961, probably accounts for the very
thorough coverage in the UMLN of Burroughs' first ten years in the Paoli area and then for
almost nothing for the twenty years between 1966 and 1986. Another possible
explanation for his gap is that most of the work going on at this time was classified.
Unfortunately, the author has not been able to locate any local source that has a backfile
of this newspaper or where any of the original photographs appearing in it may have gone.
Other valuable insights and material have been provided by Leroy Kolderup and Edward
Kurkjian, former Burroughs scientists and employees still living in the Paoli area.
George R. Starr, "Plea for Laboratory Divides Paoli Residents at Hearing," The Evening
Bulletin (November 14, 1951).
"John H. Dingee," Daily Local News (May 12, 1913). Obituary.
Bob Goshorn, "The Upper Main Line News," Tredyffrin Easttown History Club Quarterly, vol.
28, no. 2 (April 1990): 63-75.
James W. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the
Industry they Created, 1865-1956 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,
1993), p. 241. (Princeton Studies in Business and Technology).
Hob Borgson [pseud.], "The Nike Base on Diamond Rock Hill," Tredyffrin Easttown History
Club Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 3 (July 1990): 115-119.
Burroughs Corporation, Detroit, Michigan, Annual Report, 1964: 17.
Burroughs Corporation, Detroit, Michigan, Annual Report, 1973: 7.
Burroughs Corporation, Detroit, Michigan, Annual Report, 1984: 15.
Robert J. Cole, "Burroughs's Sperry Bid Under Way," The New York Times (May 9, 1986):
Andrea Knox, "Burroughs Offer Gets Legal OK, Justice Dept. Sees No Antitrust Issue,"
The Philadelphia Inquirer (May 24, 1986): D8.
Gary Thompson, "Pssst! What's a Unisys? Burroughs, Sperry Choose New Name,"
Philadelphia Daily News (November 1 1 , 1986): 26.
"lrven Travis, 82, Pioneer in Computer Development," The Philadelphia Inquirer (October
2, 1986): B18. Obituary.
Andrea Knox, "In a Go-lt-Alone Industry, Unisys Bucks the Trend," The Philadelphia
Inquirer (May 30, 1988): C l .
Andrea Knox, "Bribe Case Is Not Over, Unisys Says," The Philadelphia Inquirer (June 1 1 ,
1991): B5; "Unisys Pleads Guilty to Fraud Rap," Philadelphia Daily News (September 6,
1991): 84; Unisys Corporation, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Annual Report, 1992: 23, 29.
Valerie Reitman, "Unisys Will Cut Up To 8,000 Jobs, 920 In the Area," The Philadelphia
Inquirer (October 4, 1989): D9; Jenice Armstrong, "Unisys To Unload 10,000 Employees,"
Philadelphia Daily News (July 24, 1991): 23; Gretchen Metz, "Unisys Is No Longer County's
Top Employer," Daily Local News (August 6, 1991): 17.
Valerie Reitman, "Unisys Selling Detroit Building, One of Its Headquarters," The
Philadelphia Inquirer (June 1, 1991): B4.
Valerie Reitman, "Unisys Will Spin Off its Defense Unit," The Philadelphia Inquirer
(October 1, 1991): E 1 ; Unisys Corporation, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Annual Report, 1997:
36, 43.
Anthony Gnoffo, Jr., "Saved, Unisys Strives to Thrive, Avoiding Bankruptcy May Look
Like the Easy Part. Changing From a Computer Seller Into a Solution Seller is Hard," The
Philadelphia Inquirer (August 23, 1992): D 1 ; Unisys Corporation, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania,
Annual Report, 1991: 8.
Leslie Seism, "Another Unisys Building Put On the Block," Philadelphia Daily News
(February 2, 1990): 34.
Chester County Recorder of Deeds, West Chester, Pennsylvania, Book 3433, page 160.
Veronica Pratt, "Tredyffrin Planners OK Adult Community Proposal," Daily Local News
(September 7, 1993); Veronica Pratt, "Paoli Developer Hopes to Break Ground Next Month
for Adult Care Community," Daily Local News (March 23, 1994).
"A Modern Morality Tale, Does Unisys' Blumenthal Feel Any Remorse?" The Philadelphia
Inquirer (September 2 1 , 1991): A6.

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